Twitter Poet

I had to go back and take a screenshot of this tweet from last month. I liked it so much, and I want to be able to think of it and see it again.

ian_bogost_twitter

Curiously when I first read it and liked it, I didn’t even bother to follow the author on Twitter. Odd, hmm? This just feeds my pet theory that it’s much harder to get followers these days than it was “in the good old days.” (not counting spam bots whom I speedily block)

houseguests strangers

I posted our apartment to homexchange.com a few months ago, hoping some Romans would want to houseswap with us. No Romans want to, but everyone else does. We’ve received requests from Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Bermuda, Iceland, Spain, Florida….seriously if we had a million frequent flyer miles, I would say yes to all of these offers!

Nothing has happened yet; except that one time a French family stayed at our apartment over Christmas! Here’s what happened: I eagerly set it up via email, Joe comes home from work, he reminds me we don’t have any plans to go to France, just Italy. Ah yes good point.

So I say, “Hey why don’t you come after all? We won’t be here anyway. Maybe bring us a bottle of champagne and we’ll call it even.” We had one Skype conversation in which I ascertained that they were perfectly normal people who were not going to auction our belongings on craigslist while we were gone, and the deal was made. And so Bindu and her husband and her little daughter came to stay in Beacon Hill for New Years.

We cleaned the sheets and tidied the bathroom, set out fresh towels, locked the door, and hid the keys for them. When we returned, the apartment was cleaner than I’d ever seen it in my life, and they left all sorts of surprise gifts for us—duplos for Lux, champagne, red wine, French chocolates. I think they might have ironed our bedspread because it looked brand new.

Bindu wrote out little notes to explain all the gifts. The most surprising one was the foie gras–I known I’ve eaten this before, but only in the tiniest doses, and never with the fig jam and sweet wine that she recommended. Joe and I have split the jar for two dinners now, alongside a baguette.

So, I learned 1/ how to be a much better houseguest in the future. Now I want to always leave gifts, especially local treats from where you’re from. 2/ It was pretty neat to know someone was enjoying our stuff while we were away. Bindu wrote that her daughter loved all of Lux’s toys, and they found our apartment warm and comfortable. I thought, “yes, I do too!”

Would you be brave and let strangers stay in your home?

 

Social Clubs of Boston

I’ve been reading this nerdy (trendwatchers wiser than I say that you can’t call things nerdy anymore when you secretly believe they are awesome. Hipster trends have cancelled out self-deprecating comments like that. For the best, I suppose.) fascinating book I picked up at Brattle Book Shop. Most Boston clubs began because there weren’t good dining options at the time. And most of them were men only. Many of them still exist (like the Club of Odd Volumes in Beacon Hill, or the Union Club on Park Street). But you probably wouldn’t notice their clubhouse if you walked past it, or know that it might have been purchased by club members more than a century before.

You can probably see straight through me: I want a social club of my own. Primarily there would be velvet armchairs, fresh scones, and a big fireplace. We might have charge dues but you also might get to nap like a cat on the rug in the sunshine. You would know you could bring your friends for drinks when they came to town, there would be seats for everyone, and you wouldn’t have to shout over the music or feel guilty if you didn’t order lots of cocktails. In fact there would be a very grand dark wood bar, but members would take turns being the bartender. There would be a letter writers meeting, and many many book groups. Maybe there would be a little terrace to share iced tea. We would have a playwright among our members, and we would perform her plays annually (this is stolen from the Tavern Club, they still do this!). And we would have a very nice emblem monogrammed on all our towels. There would be a knitting meeting where everyone got very drunk. And movie showings, with a full candy bar. Yes, I do think we’d have to charge dues.

Speaking of classy traditions…I finally learned how to play chess! Maybe an old fox can learn new tricks…maybe I will learn stick-shift one of these days!

 

Sapphire Preferred

I promise I’m not getting paid to tell you this. but i should be. It’s about this credit card we’ve had for the past couple months. Chase Sapphire Preferred. We signed up because they have this promotion going: if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months, they will give you 40,000 points. We’re not very good with frequent flyer miles, points, perks, gold star 4life programs and like, but we thought we’d give it a try.

So we got a card just in my name, put everything on it and lo: 40,000 bonus points appeared! Most of which I just used to buy flights home for Christmas that would have cost $400!

Now we’re going to get a card in Joe’s name and do the same thing. Besides the free airplane rides, I thought Chase’s online banking was easy to understand and their online flight booking operation was really nice, like, nicer than some of the airlines’.

So, if you’re in the market and not dangerously misled by balancing credit card balance and bank account balance (having never had credit cards in our marriage, I was not so good with that and became a little overwhelmed by the idea of owing money!) I recommend checking it out.

The photo above is a somewhat related, it’s Kate Bingaman Burt’s illustrated and letterpressed bill from her Chase credit card that she eventually payed off.

EdibleBoston love

Every time I pick up this free magazine (usually at Savenors, but they are available all over) I learn so0 much. It’s the best way to find out about the amazing food people around Boston. They have great photography and design, and always the most seasonal of stories. Usually I learn more about food producers that I eventually spot at the markets around town.

For example in this issue, they wrote about a young tech-savvy entrepreneur who is wholesaling fish in Boston: Red’s Best. In the article they noted that if you buy local fish it is typically totally sustainable, not overfished, caught by a small operation fisherman, and amazingly fresh. I had never thought of it that way! I looked for someone selling fish at the farmer’s market yesterday and picked up a pound right away. And that was just the first article I paged to. When you see this magazine around town, definitely pick one up.

The shower beer

Have you ever brought a beer into the shower with you? Not once have I thought to do this. After some completely informal quizzing of my male friends, I’ve determined that they understand having a cold beer during a late afternoon shower to be one of life’s great pleasures. “Oh of course,” they say, “You’ve never done that?”

“It’s a way to relish a normal thing, and make it more fun.” Joe says.

“But you don’t even take long showers,” I say.

“Yes I do.”

“Oh.”

Maybe I’m crazy, but doesn’t it sound a little weird to be all sudsy, with warm water everywhere, and then try to drink a cold beer?

However, if there’s relishing to be done, I will not be left out of it.

While I was mulling over this, I came upon this gentleman’s blog wherein he posted about his first outdoor shower of the season. The ante has been upped: it doesn’t get more vacation fantastic than an outdoor shower. Here’s his drink of choice:

a manhattan garnished with persian cherries that have been rehydrated with rye and bourbon.

Now that I’ve heard about this, it’s definitely going on my summer bucket list.  Are you getting excited about new things to try this summer? {speaking of, Anna just posted a great, very Boston themed one.}

the May foodswap

the May foodswap was last weekend and I made marshmallows! and a good thing too, because Monday, May 21, turned out rainy and cold.

When I made the first batch of marshmallows I thought, “those liars. This is hard! and sticky! Not easy like they promised me on the internets.” But after that I made the next two in quick succession and it seemed much easier. A marshmallow recipe is a good one to make while you’re replying to emails or doing something else; there is a lot of waiting time where the watched pot likes to be left alone.

Toasted Coconut, Lillet spiked, and Chocolate Cinnamon.

The toasted coconut was crunchy and squishy (I’m using all the leftover coconut in my oatmeal these days), the Chocolate Cinnamon had unexpected chunks of ultra dark chocolate hidden throughout, the Lillet spiked ones tasted of citrus with an alcohol twist dusted in powder sugar and brilliantly white. They were my favorite.

They were very popular at the swap–too popular. I only made 10 bags, and 12 people signed up to trade with me, and I wanted to trade with a few more after that! It was hard to decide how to trade, and I didn’t like not having enough for everyone! (aren’t the labels appropriate? Joe made them for me, the font is called Bello.)

I traded for a jar of chive kimchi, a jar of mole sauce, a bag of homemade cheddar crackers, a container of marinated mozzarella balls, a beautiful lemon poppy seed cupcake filled with violet jelly with mascarpone frosting, strawberry-sherry compote, a jar of arugula pesto, four decadent marshmallow brownies, a mini loaf of onion bread, and a bag of homemade chai! As usual I was stunned and awed at the awesome things everyone brought.

My friend Johanna made the chai and I thought the packaging turned out irresistible! How pretty are these?

Several of you commented that you would like to start a foodswap in your town. I think you should! You would probably need to recruit about 5-7 people to get it started, and then spread the word! The most unexpected people participate and really get into it.

Meeting a (food) blogger you admire

When I realized I was going to be in Santa Monica for a week with free childcare (commonly called grandma) the first thing I though of was xobreakfast.

Xobreakfast is a blogger that I’ve admired since I first read about her on the venerable pages of Wednesday Chef. I like her style, I like her breakfast love, I like her quirky puns, and I love her great taste in recipe development (her maple olive oil oatbread is the house favorite these days). I think the first thing I loved about her was her clever avatar:

irresistible, no?

Though I had piles of affection for this person, of course I’d never spoken with her, much less met her. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

And she said yes!

do I look thrilled? I was.

Probably the best thing about meeting up with a food blogger is there’s no shame in emailing back and forth for weeks with our lists of where we think we should meet. L.A. currently has lots of coffee shops that are the best parts of “hipster” culture: obsessive about quality, beautiful architectural almost art-galleryesque interiors, articulate chalkboard menus, fair trade brews, carefully selected pastries…plus, and this was a big unexpected plus to me: patios with sunshine!

We picked a place half way between us, The Coffee Commissary. We were partially convinced by the existence of a food truck name Eggslut that parked outside on week day mornings. In typical fashion, everyone on Yelp insisted that the baristas were jerks who refused to smile and acted like they worked as grim reapers in the evenings….though the Yelpers gravely admitted the coffee was delicious.

But when we got there we found everyone all smiles and cordial explanations (possibly they were tipped off that two glamorous bloggers were arriving?). We both picked up salted caramel rice crispy treats, and I had to circle back halfway through for a cream biscuit with strawberry jam and creme fraiche.

Noelle ordered the signature “slut” which was a coddled egg with pureed potatoes, chives and gray salt that came in an adorable glass jar.

I brought her honey from the east coast. She made me granola. And we talked about…food! Cortados (I had never heard of these mini cappuccinos that were on menus all over LA), muesli, packing too many dishes to take to France, babies and boyfriends, eating too much when you travel to new exciting places, the strawberries at the farmers market, bread recipes….of course we knew lots about each other because we’d read each other’s blogs! It was so fun.

It made me think of this quote on Swiss Miss recently:

There’s something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else’s site. It’s like visiting a friend’s house for a quick meal ’round the breakfast table. It’s personal — you’re in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. In many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. Be welcoming & gracious when you host, and kind & respectful when visiting. – Trent Walton

What about you? Is there a blogger who you’d love to meet in person? Would you be nervous to share how much you truly know about them, in conversation?